Itching for a chance to get off campus but don’t want to brave traffic to the Westside? Just minutes from L.A.’s Union Station, Little Tokyo has you covered. Less than an hour from campus (by car or Metrolink), this area is easily accessible and compact — perfect for a quick jaunt into Los Angeles. Here are a few things to do, see, buy and–of course–eat.
What to do:
This exhibition space opened as a temporary gallery for the Museum of Contemporary Art in 1983; the 40,000 square feet of space host larger more recent works than the flagship on Grand Avenue. The former police car warehouse was renovated by Frank Gehry; it has recently been closed for renovations but reopens in March to host an exhibit by Mike Kelley.
Where to eat:
The dining options are vast in Little Tokyo, from top-notch ramen to inspired gastropub fare, but I prefer to indulge my sushi cravings when I’m in the area. Hama Sushi, located firmly in the heart of Little Tokyo in the historic Japanese Village Plaza, is a solid favorite for traditional sushi and hand rolls. The albacore sashimi is a must-order, but don’t expect any fried rice or noodles as an accompaniment–this place is traditional and makes it a point to keep the menu simple. Sushi Gen is a worthy competitor of Hama; the sashimi lunch special ($15 for an assortment of fresh fish and extras) and its dinner specials are worth a visit. If you want to spend a few extra bucks on your fish, sit at the sushi bar and let the chefs prepare you a veritable (and reasonable) feast.
Where to shop:
Venture a bit closer to the Arts District for a stop at Poketo, a modern design store rife with crafty and bright housewares and other oddities. It’s a great place to grab gifts that range from printed wallets to planners to teak measuring sets. Perhaps most importantly, they stock Mast Brothers Chocolate, a perfect treat to combat the post-Valentine’s blues.